Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Letting the sun shine

This spring has been very cold so far. We had some nice days right at the end of "winter." Then it became cold again. A lot of rain, snow, and just plain cloudy days. The last couple of days the sun has shone. It has looked beautiful. My heart has sang. Yet it has still been pretty cold. For a moment every now and then I wonder if it will be cold forever!

Sometimes I think life is a lot like this. When we are in the middle of a trial, we wonder if life will ever be "good again." Will we ever have peace? Will we ever be content?

Yet I sometimes have a problem when everything is good! It seems like when life is swimming along at a nice pace I worry about what is around the corner. If life is good, something major is about to collapse! I don't know if you readers feel the same way or not!

The thing is, worrying about whatever mystery-up-coming trial only depletes the joy from now and offers us nothing during whatever trial may come. At least that is what I am telling myself--enjoy those moments now. They may be fleeting  they may be few, but they are ours for the enjoyment while they last!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Why you should care about the right to homeschool--even if you NEVER want to do it!

As much as I say this is not a political blog, I lie sometimes!

So there is a lot of talk going around about the right to homeschool. Since most of my readers don't homeschool I will give a little back ground information. Each state has it's own standards and requirements for homeschooling. Some states you have to be a certified teacher and submit your lesson plans, and your children have to take standardized testing. In some states you don't have to do ANYTHING except not enroll your children in school. 

With common core coming down the pipes and the Romeike case going on right now (if you don't know what I am talking about--PLEASE educate yourself!!!) there is a lot of talk amongst us homeschoolers about the right to homeschool and if it will stay it tact. 

Why should you care? Especially if you send your kids to public school!

Let me tell you the very little I know about Germany. It is illegal to homeschool in Germany. If you didn't know that, you didn't do your homework on the Romeike case. What I know is that you are not allowed to pull your kids out of school for ANYTHING. I mean if Grandma passes away, your kids can not leave school for the funeral. Your child is having a hard time dealing with something, no mental health days. If you need to leave early for a family vacation--sorry! No exceptions--you go to school. They take this so seriously that they post armed guards at the train station and remove your children from your custody if you refuse.

Well, this doesn't seem so bad--we need our children to be educated! Right? Yet start thinking about different scenarios where this could be bad. First off, a lot of German Christian families do not like the public school's curriculum for sex ed. Yet, your child can not opt out of it. Some of the families feel that the public school teaches the children to disrespect their parents. 

Your children spend more waking hours at public school than they do with you. 

Most parents I know are very vigilant about teaching their children right from wrong. Yet when you put your child in school at a very young age, they are still very impressionable. If all of the department of Education things they are proposing go through, your children will be in public school from preschool age--FULL TIME! Not only that, with standards that are put forth from the National government. There hasn't been a lot of teacher input in these new standards at all! 

I want to have the right to raise my children according to the dictates of my own conscience. (Of course within reason--I am an old DCFS worker--I have seen where too many parental rights isn't good too!)

Before you think that I am anti-public school--I'm not completely. Yet, I think the biggest strength we have in our public school are our teachers. The amazing people that dedicate their lives, with little pay and little respect, to teaching your children. When a teacher has freedom to flex her/his curriculum and how she/he teaches to the interest, mood, and personality of her/his class you have much more success! (Any public school teachers disagree with me?) So when you have a national curriculum, you have much less success. So I am not anti-school, just anti-big government controlling school.

With all of this control, it scares me of what could happen. What kind of corruption may take place over time. 

There may be a time where honest God-fearing people need to homeschool their children. This right may be taken away. And that is why, I think all parents should care about the right to homeschool. 

We don't need to hand over any rights to the government. 

Even if it is a right we don't currently participate in!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Being David

When we chose our children's names, we didn't consult "name your baby books," or check the meaning of their names. I guess if we were worried about what their names meant, we probably would have given them different names. They aren't very creative. They mean things like "wood worker, a person that lives by the stream, industrious, and barrel maker."

Instead we named them after people. Our oldest has the middle name of both of his grandfathers. Our second is named after a latter-day apostle, and my husband's late brother. Our third is named after a mission companion and several great-grandfathers. And our last is named after an ancestor and both of our mother's middle names put together. 

My husband's brother was named David. We were talking about our names one day and I asked Max if he knew where the name David had originally come from. He told me he didn't know. I tried to prompt him by telling him that he was the guy that slayed the huge giant. He still didn't know. So I asked him, "have you ever heard the story of David and Goliath?" He just stared at me blankly, wondering who in the world I was talking about. 

So today I decided that I needed to fix the error of my ways and introduce my kids to one of the greatest Bible stories of all time! I read to them out of The Good Book, and I realized that I don't think I had ever read that story in it's entirety straight from the bible itself. I guess I probably did when I was in High School since I read the whole Old Testament. Yet, it had been a long time!

I remember learning this story as a child. I loved it! And there is a veggie tales movie about it, that is probably the closest I have come listening to the story in the last couple of years. Anyway, I was reminded today of why it is such a cool story.

I could rehash the whole thing, but that would be boring--and you know the condensed version anyway!! Yet, what stuck out to me this time was David's courage. He was a young kid. He was so confused as to why everyone was so scared of this 9-10 foot tall guy. He didn't care that this amazingly large man was also skilled and trained in battle. He knew he had come against the people of God, therefore David knew that the guy had no chance. 

David tired to dress for battle but there wasn't any armor that fit or weapons that he was skilled with. So he picked up 5 stones from the creek and went out to meet Goliath. (P.S. David was pretty cool to begin with, he had killed a lion and a bear before.) There was some awesome trash talk that went on between the two. I love how David always brings in back to God. "that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel."

And this is the part that I absolutely LOVE: (1 Samuel 17:48) "And it came to pass, when the Philistine arose, and came and drew nigh to meet David, that David HASTED, and ran toward the army to meet the Philistine."

David didn't doubt for even a second that he, a mere boy, could defeat this GIANT. He ran straight for him! He knew that God was more powerful that this man. 

Do we know that? Do we know that whatever problem we are wrestling with in our lives right now that God is bigger than it? Do we shrink or cower from our trials? Or do we charge them like David? I know I cower more than I should. Today I need to pray for the faith and courage of David. 

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Finding the motivation

         I do "scripture study" with my kids during school. So I felt like I was good with the whole family scripture study thing. We had tried to do it as as a family before, but it was hard. Josh has to leave for work early in the morning, and I really like to have my morning to myself to fill my cup up so I have something to give my family. Yet, I knew that if we weren't reading the scriptures with dad, somehow it didn't really count.  I had tried to be up, get my stuff done, and make breakfast so we could grab a couple of scriptures in before he left for work, but it only lasted about a month.

          At my cousin Cherie's funeral her husband talked about how she would wake everyone up at 6:45 am in order to have scripture study. When he spoke of that, my heart knew that I needed to get back into that habit. 

It just seemed so hard! 

Later that week, I was struggling with some things that I wanted for my family, not knowing how to bring them to pass. As I was pondering on it, I went to a class by Bruce Newbold on the hope The Book of Mormon promises. When he was speaking, he quoted a very powerful quote by Marion G. Romney. When he read it, I couldn't even write it down. I was overcome with the spirit, it testified to me that the things I was looking for, for my family could be found by reading the scriptures with my family everyday. Luckily for me, I emailed Bishop Newbold later that week, and he was kind enough to send me the quote again. 

·         “I feel certain that if, in our homes, parents will read from the Book of Mormon prayerfully and regularly, both by themselves and with their children, the spirit of that great book will come to permeate our homes and all who dwell therein. The spirit of reverence will increase; mutual respect and consideration for each other will grow. The spirit of contention will depart. Parents will counsel their children in greater love and wisdom. Children will be more responsive and submissive to the counsel of their parents. Righteousness will increase. Faith, hope, and charity—the pure love of Christ—will abound in our homes and lives, bringing in their wake peace, joy, and happiness.” (Ensign, May 1980, p. 67).

Is that motivation to get up a little earlier? It has been for me. 

Worth every yawn!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Feeling the fire, fanning my flames

This weekend my friend Rylie came to visit. She came and watched conference with us. We had a really good weekend.
I loved Rylie since I first met her when she was 18 months-old.
I met her because I was her daycare teacher when I was 19 years-old. Her mom also worked in the daycare and we became great friends. I instantly adopted Rylie, her sister Camryn, and her brother Jake as my own nieces and nephew. And when Chase came along (years later), I was so excited.
I had these kids over all the time, and spoiled them as much as I could. I took them when their parents went out of town, and had countless sleepovers. I honestly couldn't get enough of them.

It was really hard for me to leave them when I went on a mission to Montana.

Rylie has been feeling the desire to go on a mission. She has been asking me so many questions and even sat through my looking at my WHOLE mission photo album. She {at least acted} interested the whole time even! On Sunday she wanted to watch Errand of Angels. As we started watching she asked quite a few questions about the rules. I decided to go see if I could find the old white handbook. (okay so now I find this one online) Yet in finding my handbook, I dug through my big box of old mission stuff. Letters, pictures, name tags, certificates etc...

I think Rylie was the most surprised to see that I still had fun on my mission.

There were things that I hadn't looked at in over 13 years. Some, I had never really looked at. Some of those were letters to my mission president, that I hadn't even looked at since I sent them. I was surprised at the immaturity one of them--I only remember being perfect as a missionary!!

Yet the overall theme of my letters was how much I loved being a missionary. I radiated a love for the gospel of Jesus Christ, and a passion for teaching God's children. Even through great difficulty, and tremendous trial, I had a joy that couldn't be matched.

I guess that is why I love my little blog. I don't know who is reading it. I don't get to see your faces, and for the most part you all choose to remain nameless. I see my stats though, and I know that people are looking. I love sharing my testimony. I don't know if it matters to anyone, but it does matter to me. I love spending some time each day talking about the gospel, my family, and the things that I love. 

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Facing our "tents" toward the temple

Have I mentioned that there are 100 reasons why I LOVE my little house? (There are a few things I would change if I could too, but that is not what this post is about.)We found our house in April (of 2005) when the peach tree and cherry tree were in full bloom. And I instantly fell in love with the creek that runs through our back yard. I absolutely love that I get to fall asleep to every night April-October. I thought that these were the house's best features.

One night after we got married I found my very favorite thing about my house, from our front yard, you can see the bountiful temple. It may be miles away, it is just a bright little speck in in the distance, but you know what it is.

I loved it because it reminded me of when King Benjamin called his people to come to the temple. When they had gathered,"they pitched their tents round about the temple, every man having his atent with the door thereof towards the temple."  My door was towards the temple! I don't know if it would have been something on my list of things to look for in a house, it happened quite by miracle, but I loved it. The temple is only visible from my door by night. Yet it serves as a beacon in the darkness. A shimmering speck of light in the blackness. 
King Benjamin's address reminds me so much of general conference. So much that we studied his address in school a couple of days leading up to conference, and even the Monday after. We acted out the story with our camo teepee, and hearth. I loved watching the kids take turns pretending to be King Benjamin.
As I studied the story of King Benjamin, I realized that there were more similarities between General Conference and the event written about by Mosiah than just the gathering of all of the saints.
Or at least there SHOULD be more! I remember learning this story in Seminary. I remember my Seminary teacher really digging into what it would be like if we were really gathering around the temple. He talked about what it would be like without restaurants, public bathrooms, and the fact that there would have been animals all around. It even talks in the scriptures about the people bringing their animals to sacrifice. (vs3)This was always just a minor detail to me. Yet as I was re-reading this passage this morning, it hit me. What was I going to sacrifice after conference? I'm not talking animals, or kids here, I am talking about sins. What is it that I am willing to place on the alter? Neal A. Maxwell taught, "
  • "The submission of one’s will is really the only uniquely personal thing we have to place on God’s altar. The many other things we 'give,' brothers and sisters, are actually the things He has already given or loaned to us. However, when you and I finally submit ourselves, by letting our individual wills be swallowed up in God’s will, then we are really giving something to Him! It is the only possession which is truly ours to give!"
“Swallowed Up in the Will of the Father,” Ensign, Nov. 1995
The story also talks about how the people couldn't all hear the word, so they got it in written form.(vs. 8) I loved this, because if you are like me--there were times I could not hear the message. I tried my hardest to pay attention even among 4 little kids, a teenager and a husband. Yet, even if I could have heard everything, there was only so much I could absorb the first time. I am excited to study the talks a lot closer. Thinking upon this, I came across this post at one of my new favorite blogs, Diapers and Divinity.  She mentions that there are the same number of talks as there are weeks until the next General Conference. Coincidence? Let's just say this makes it a lot easier to stay on task. 

Another similarity is that after they heard the words of the prophet, they "rejoiced with great joy!" (Mosiah 5:4)During conference I felt so happy. I even wrote in my notes that I always wanted to feel this way. They  had no more disposition to do evil, but wanted to do good continually. (vs 2)

So how do we do that? How do we really incorporate the truths we have learned, and make them part of our lives? King Benjamin's followers repented, and changed. I had several impressions of things that I needed to change. 

These are personal commandments for me. I hope to be like King Benjamin said, " Therefore, I would that ye should be steadfast and immovable, always abounding in agood works, that Christ, the bLord God Omnipotent, may cseal you his, that you may be brought to heaven, that ye may have everlasting salvation and eternal life, through the wisdom, and power, and justice, and mercy of him whodcreated all things, in heaven and in earth, who is God above all. Amen." (Mosiah 5:15)

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Side tracked FHE

          So I was sure FHE was going to be a winner. Wait hold on, as I write that, it sounds like I had planned a FHE. Truth be told, there hadn't been much planning going on. Yet as we started horsing around with my camera and a flashlight, a brilliant lesson came flooding into my mind. The inspiration was abundant.
So, maybe the first images we created were a little creepy. But they were engaged! The kids were participating and they were having fun! Half 90% of the battle  solved right there!
After we took the creepy pictures, we started playing around with creating shapes with the light. 
Everyone had a turn. We then moved onto the lesson part of the night. We began by talking about tools. What tools did we use to create our pictures?
We used Daddy's flashlight. We used Mommy's camera. We even used our arms,faces, fingers etc . . .
We used Mommy's knowledge of photography to take them. If we were going to print them, we would need a computer, a printer or Costco. If we were going to get them printed at Costco, there would be even more tools involved. A car, the Costco printer, the Costco workers etc. . .
Then I asked if Heavenly Father had tools. We talked about the scriptures and churches. Then I asked if people could be tools. We talked about teachers, bishops, missionaries and more. I asked if Satan had tools.
We talked about how Satan often takes good things and uses them as tools to tempt us to do wrong things. Like spending too much time watching TV (Which was reinforcing an earlier conversation I had had with them that morning.) or too much time on the computer. 
We sang Dare to do right. We talked about how each of us have work to do here on this earth. We have all been put here to accomplish something that "no other can do."
I read them scriptures on their personal mission, and we talked about how we can all be tools for Heavenly Father. 
By this time, the kids had lost it. They were being very silly. Turner said he wanted to be a chain saw. I tried to turn that around by saying, "that means that you would be sharp and work hard."
Max then said that he wanted to be a screwdriver. He wanted to be a screwdriver so that he could screw everyone. Now he just turned 5, He had no idea what he was saying.
But, I lost it at this point and covered my face with a couch cushion so they couldn't see me laughing. 
I was really glad when I didn't get called on to pray. 
Just goes to show you that it really doesn't matter, your kids are going to find a way to thwart Family Home Evening, no matter what!! Yet, it is still worth it. I am sure they will get something out of it someday.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

My take on traditional marriage.

I wrote this several days ago. I felt very strongly that I was supposed to post it. I didn’t want to. First off, it is a little too personal. Not really the thing I want everyone having access to. Secondly I didn’t feel like it was very cohesive. I felt like my example was WAY off.  Just because it made sense to me, in my head, didn’t mean that others would get the connections I had attempted to make. I also felt like I wanted my blog to be a happy place, a place where people could come and feel good, not a place for me to speak out against anything. But most of all, I was scared. I was (and still am) afraid that I would offend people I love. I know my belief isn’t popular or politically correct, and so I assume that people that are with the mainstream on this topic would attack me. I am extremely sensitive—I hate being attacked.
               So I did what I thought was a compromise. I posted part of it, and buried it in another post. I didn’t link that post to FB, and I called it good. The problem was—I didn’t feel good. I felt like I wasn’t standing up for what I believe in. I was letting imaginary people bully me inside my head so that real people couldn’t bully me in real life.
               So in attempts to try to be courageous, here is my full, original post:

               26 March 2013 “I have recently told the Lord that I would write anything he inspired me to. I had a lot of images of happy, lovely posts. I have written some of those. I didn’t imagine this post. In fact, when I woke up this morning, I looked at my laptop and wondered what the Lord would inspire me to write today. I didn’t even imagine this post would be it. Yet as I was on Facebook today, I saw all of these cute pink and red symbols taking the places of my lovely friend’s faces. It looked to me just like the blue and yellow equality symbol I see on people’s cars. After a quick google search, I realized that it is the same. People are changing their profile pictures in support of same gender marriage.
               I have to admit, I have always wanted to be pro-gay marriage. Equality is a passion of mine! I think everyone should have equal rights. I also am a big fan of this gift called agency which God has given me. I feel like it should be given to everyone. Besides, being pro-gay marriage is the politically correct stand point. And the number one biggest reason why I have always wanted to be pro-gay marriage is how many wonderful friends I have that are gay. I really do have some AMAZING friends that are gay. And I LOVE them!! I really do. So I have naturally leaned towards equality in marriage.
               The problem is I have done some research on the topic. And as much as I love my gay friends, I realize they may hate me for my new stand on the issue. The problem is—I am a social worker by nature. I became a social worker because I wanted to advocate for the rights of children. I believe that children are the biggest victim of “equal marriage.” It caused me to reflect on this question, “who is it equal for?”
               This is hard for me to talk about because really, who am I to say? I am heterosexual. I just am, nothing I can do about it, I like boys. Yet, I have several guy friends whom feel the same way. Nothing they can do about it, they like boys too! Yet, I do have a little secret; I don’t like all boys the same way. I had this particular thing for felons. Sick hu? Yet true. I know my mother was very worried about me in my 20’s. I kept dating really scary guys. Let me tell you about a guy I didn’t date.
               For internet privacy, we will call this guy Sam. Sam was a client of mine. I was a social worker, working in Phoenix at the time. For the most part I worked with addicted moms. This case was a little different. Sam had just gotten out of prison. Sam had an eight-year old son. While he had been in prison (for manufacturing meth) his son had gone into protective custody and the mother’s rights had been severed. Sam was the best placement for this little guy. He had seemed to have turned his life around while in prison. I was working on reunification and parenting skills with him.
               There was something about him. I don’t know what it was, but there was chemistry between us. (Maybe because he had been a “chemist” in his previous life? just kidding.) Yet there was a strong connection. One day during a visit my cell phone rang. I was expecting an important phone call for another case, and it would have been coming from a number that wasn’t programed into my phone. So I excused myself and took the call. It was a wrong number, so I resumed my conversation with Sam, when the phone rang again. It was the guy who had just previously called me. He asked what my name was, and if I was single. I told him that I couldn’t talk—I was working, and hung up.
               Sam, by this time, was extremely curious in my conversation with my mystery admirer.  I told him that I got that a lot—I must have a friendly voice. He raised his eyebrows at me and said, “Well, I know that I certainly look forward to our conversations.” That was the comment that kind of broke the ice. I knew that he was feeling the same things I was feeling. We tried not to talk about it, but the sexual tension was palatable.  One day I had a therapist come with me to the appointment and at one point Sam left the room and she asked me if there was something going on between us.
               With Sam, it was easy. I would have to have crossed some extreme well defined lines to date him. It wasn’t ethical. There were others like Sam, not that I had as clients, but other guys. They didn’t manufacture meth, but they had their own “charms”—I dated them. They weren’t felons, that I knew of, but guys that weren’t the kind of guys you take home to mom (even though I did take some of them home to mom, hence the fact that she was worried about me.) I was worshiped by some, used by most. What it really boiled down to, is that although I was attracted to them, they wouldn’t give me what I really wanted out of life. I wanted a family. Not that they couldn’t have fathered a family, a lot of them already had some kids. I wanted a family with stability, with honor, with a father that my kids could look up to. So I made a different choice.
               Now before you get the rope to lynch me, I am not saying that homosexuals are similar to felons, and that they can’t offer stability, honor, and someone for kids to look up to. It is just that a family, to me, isn’t about sexual attraction. Although my husband is cute, that isn’t what makes us a family. What we provide for each other, and for our children, is what makes us a family. Most of the gay guys I know would make AWESOME dads. Yet they wouldn’t be a mom. The lesbian women that I know would make marvelous moms. Yet they wouldn’t be a dad. Genderless marriage breaks down the roles and responsibilities of parents. This I am passionate about. I believe that in an ideal world a child needs both a mother and a father.
               Here is an excerpt of an article that I read that explains it a little better than I can. “By traditional definition, marriage is the protective sanctuary that allows children to have a relationship with both father and mother. That relationship provides them with the stable and long-term care and nurturance they deserve. “Without this public purpose,” Dr. Morse explains, “marriage would cease to exist as a distinct social institution.”

Naturally, these protections regarding procreation cannot be extended to a homosexual union because that union cannot procreate. The solution to the problem cannot be to add protections to a power that does not exist. The only way that these non-procreative unions can become legally equal is to remove several biological protections—protections that that the law extends to the procreative unions found in traditional marriage.

Thus, the invention of genderless marriage has the potential to affect the nature of traditional relationships more than the nature of gay relationships. According to this new definition of equality, court judgments are already being handed down that strip biological distinctions and hence ignore biological rights.

States that have ratified homosexual marriage have done so by removing gender from the law, stripping rights from children and fathers and, in some cases, from biological mothers. For example, Illinois effectively instituted gay marriage by removing any reference to gender from their marriage laws. Likewise, Massachusetts’ marriage certificates recognize not bride and groom, but Party A and Party B.

Whose Rights are Threatened by Genderless Marriage?

The first casualty in the gender battle is the primary and essential purpose of marriage, which is, according to Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, ‘to attach mothers and fathers to their children and to one another.’”
               So now you may understand why I am pro-traditional marriage.  I may have also just made a rambling fool of myself. Either way these two articles by gay men have helped me understand why I feel we are trying to make an apple into an orange. Check them out here: and here .
               Yet above all, I would hope that those that disagree with me would not hate me as I don’t hate those who feel differently. Christ set the perfect example of love towards one another.  I have listen and sympathized with many gay friends as they are trying to sort through their feelings and emotions.  I have a pretty strong feeling that the Supreme Court is going to rule in favor of gay marriage. Yet I just felt like I needed to sort out my feelings about the whole thing. And I do that best through writing.” 

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Max's birthday/Easter weekend part 2

So it is pretty hard to separate Max's birthday and Easter. We did Easter baskets, Easter egg hunt, and his birthday dinner on Sat. On Sunday we did church, Easter dinner, birthday presents, and birthday cake. All in all it was a fantastic weekend. Here it is in pictures:

We blew up some punch balloons and they had a blast Sunday morning!

Josh was amazing enough to snap a few pictures of the kids Sunday morning. 

I was kinda in love with Amelia's dress at first sight
I was down the week before Max's birthday. My amazing MIL was kind enough to make Max's cake for him. He loves Wreck-it Ralph. He loved his cake! (it was yummy too!!)

Make a wish my big 5 year-old
Amelia with Sophia. Amelia is a little jealous, she pretends her name is Princess Sophia quite a bit.